Winter Hammock camping brings an open and natural experience outdoors. A hammock can be used in a new camping ground where the ground is wet or uneven. All you need is two places or a pair of trees to sling your hammock in between. Hammocking is a great way to experience nature at its raw. But what about hammocking in the winter?
When the temperature is single-digit or close to zero how do you survive a cold night in a hammock?
The one thing that can kill somebody while in a hammock in winter is atmospheric convection. The air blowing underneath or coming from over the edges(rocks) makes the air super cold and can be the reason for death.
Here is our guide on surviving winter hammock camping. These 11 Tips are crafted by experienced Campers, adventurers, and survival experts who have survived some of the coldest winters the world has ever seen.
11 Tips for Surviving in Winter hammock camping
These tips can help you make your Winter hammock camping super comfortable and fun.
1. Use an Underquilt-
An Underquilt is a key component of your hammocking success. With so many different types of hammocks from under-quilt, half-quilt, over-quilt, and more. So choosing the underquilt and setting it up properly is the most important point here.
- How do you choose a good underquilt?
A quality underquilt must be big enough to cover the hammock from head to toe, the bottom, and the sides of your hammock.
Your underquilt should be quick and easy to set up for a cozy fix.
The temperature rating of the underquilt is very important. If you are camping in cold areas where the temperature is expected to drop to single digits or close to zero, an underquilt with 0°-10° is recommended.
- How to Fix the Underquilt Properly
Setting up the underquilt is important. Lay your underquilt flat and take one end of the underquilt and clip it onto the continuous loop of the hammock and repeat the process for the other end.
Adjust the ends and the sides once you get inside the hammock. Remember not to tighten the ends of the underquilt with the hammock. The underquilt should be separate and the gap between these two works as insulation.
The underquilt supports your hammock like a cocoon, so making it really tight with the hammock will kill the loft.
2. Use a Good Rated Topquilt
Winter Hammock Camping is more challenging because you have to deal with cold air below and above you. Once you take care of the cold air below you through an underquilt, it’s time to deal with the air above you. A top-rated top quilt with a temperature ranging between 0°-10° (35-50°F) is suitable for a chilly winter night.
The best way to choose an underquilt and Topquilt is to select a lower-rated one. If you are camping for a temperature range between 10-20° then select quilts that are rated for 0°-10°.
This top quilt works as a wearable blanket with a versatile foot box for more warmth. Choose a top quilt that is cozy, fluffy, adjustable, windproof, waterproof, and fit for outdoor camping.
3. Proper Tarp configiuration
Many campers ignore the importance of tarp setup. A good tarp position will shield you from the cold and chilly wind blowing your way. Try to position or hang as low as possible (near to the ground). This will save you from the wind blowing and the cold air below your hammock. Use a large tarp to hang your hammock low.
4. Sleeping Pad
Sleeping outdoors in a hammock can be quite challenging if you are not using the right gear. A sleeping pad that is approved for a hammock is an ideal solution. A sleeping pad with a thick loft and a good R-value can provide you with the ultimate warmth needed.
A 2.5-inch thick pad with an R-value of 2.2-2.6 will be enough for a cozy sleep at any temperature up to 0 degrees Celsius. Anything less than that you might need a Quilt on top of that.
A Therm-a-rest pad with a top quilt and a tarp can beat 0-10 degrees temperature.
5. Heavy Warm Clothes with lots of Layers
Always wear heavy warm clothes with a lot of layers that will act as your first line of defense against terrible cold weather. Wear a light and long sleeve t-shirt or shirt as the first layer with a woolen fabric as the second layer. Top it up with a proper jacket with a cap and an oversized coat or a weatherproof jacket as the final layer of clothing. Wear a woolen cap for protecting the head and socks to keep the feet warm.
6. Avoid any Dead Branches on the Top
Sleeping under the stars is a wonderful experience but it can bring many unforeseen dangers you might not be aware of. One such danger is the falling off of dead branches stuck on tall trees Check for any such sick or dead branches and try to be as far as possible from the branches.
7. Use/Carry a Rainfly
You are never sure about the weather in any conditions, it can turn at any point in time. Always carry a rainfly which will not only save you from rain but from chilly cold breezes in winter. Use a bigger rainfly with more anchor points so that it acts as a shield from the cold air. Use a four-sided tarp to act as a windbreaker.
8. Use Natural Shelters
Try to use natural shelters as much as possible as they act as a windbreaker and save you from the cold breezes. These shelters can be large trees like Cedar, piles of rocks, or Bushes. If you don’t find any natural shelter then the best alternative to them is to use a 4-sided tarp on top of your hammock.
9. Get a Bottle of Hot Water
A bottle of hot water will be the only source of heat in your hammock. So fill a bottle and keep it next to you.
10. Use a Pillow
Use an insulated and inflated pillow underneath your head. This will add an extra cushion between your head and the pad below.
11. Take care of any Unfinished work
Make sure you don’t have to get out of your hammock in the mid of the night for some unfinished work like going to the toilets, packing any stuff left out in the open, or anything. This will compromise the insulation and will leave us at square one. Don’t do that take care of any unfinished business before making it into the hammock.
Recommended Hammock Setup Guide for Different Temperatures
Temperature Range Hammocking Set-Up Required 10°-20° celsius A 0° Underquilt
20° Top Quilt
0°-10° celsius A 0° Underquilt
20° Top Quilt
Below Zero Degrees A 0° Underquilt
20° Top Quilt
4 Sided Tarp with Multiple Anchors
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you keep a hammock warm in the winter?
Most campers use an Underquilt to deal with the bottom cold air hitting the hammock. For the top cold breezes, a top quilt, a tarp setup, and a good sleeping bag with an insulated pad is required to beat the winter cold.
Can you use a hammock in winter?
Yes, Hammocking is doable in winter and if you do the basics right it can be comfortable and fun. Underquilt is a key to hammocking survival and using the correct rated underquilt and setting up it right is critical.
How do you sleep in a hammock in cold weather?
If you sleep cold in a hammock then you need a Therm-a-rest pad and rated top quilt, with an inflated pillow that can give you a warm sleep in your hammock.
How far off the ground should a hammock be?
Ideally, you should set up your hammock 11/2-2 feet above the ground. If the ground is wet you should be at a safe distance. If it is a place where there is snowfall then you should be at least two feet above the ground because you need to be at safe distance from the pile of snow.
What is a hammock Underquilt?
A hammock underquilt is a rectangle or diagonal shape quilt made of nylon/propylene material which gives insulation to the hammock. It is built to fit all standard-size hammocks and keeps you warm.
How do I keep my feet warm in a hammock?
Use woolen socks and keep your feet in the foot box of your sleeping pad or top quilt.
There can be different temperatures depending on the location of your camping. A 20-degree hammocking camp will have a different setup than a single-digit or sub-zero setup.
If you sleep warm a 20-degree setup will be just fine but if you sleep cold a 0° or 10° setup is required to survive the long cold nights in winter. So, winter hammock camping is the best option to do camping during winter.